Shopping Cart Guide

Whether your business is just starting out or well established in your industry, all ecommerce sites have something in common; the shopping cart.

Not all shopping carts are created equally and how your cart functions can have a big impact on customer satisfaction and your bottom line.

That’s why we’ve decided to create this guide to help you understand what options are available and when to use them.

Types of Carts

In the world of ecommerce there are two major categories you need to be aware of; readymade carts and customized carts. The names are fairly self-explanatory but they do have some considerable differences that can affect your business’ performance.

Ready Made Shopping Carts

This type of cart is often the best way to go if you’re a new start-up or an SME looking to break into the world of ecommerce. A readymade cart comes with some key advantages for organizations that need to be lean and focus on other areas of the business.

Readymade carts are generally:

Less Expensive

One of the biggest appeals for ready-made shopping carts is their relatively low cost compared to custom solutions. A readymade cart is essentially a generic piece of software that is designed to meet a wide range of requirements in the shopping cart space. This versatile design means that a developer can distribute the shopping cart across many sites and can sell at a lower price. The usually price range for a ready made cart is between USD50 to USD100 depending on the specific solution.

Easier to Setup

Another major benefit of readymade shopping cart systems is that they are made to work right away. They will often require a simple setup and many can have you accepting orders in less than 15 minutes after purchasing. Just hit the install button, and after a few minutes the program will be up and running on your site.

Easier to Maintain

Finally, readymade shopping carts also have the advantage of being supported and updated by the original developer. This means updates, security patches, and new features will often be pushed to your site and will require minimal effort from you side to apply. With a readymade cart you can rest assured that your site’s shopping cart is secure and modern with additional investment.


It’s not all perfect with readymade carts however, and purchasing standard software can sometimes cause issues. One of the biggest disadvantages of using these cart systems is that because they are widely distributed across the ecommerce space they tend to be larger targets for hackers and other criminal activity. It’s therefore very important to stay up to date on the latest news and always update to the latest version of the cart software.

Ready Made Cart Examples


Shopify provides users with a simplified way of launching their online store that is accessible to just about everyone. The process just requires you to make an account, select a theme, and go live. Managing store operations is really also straightforward and Shopify handles virtually all your shopping cart needs.


Magento has a bit more of learning curve and it may take you a little more time to get familiar with the platform's design and functionality. It is designed for more advanced users who are willing to tinker and are looking to move towards custom solutions in the future. Shopping carts on this platform will take a bit more time to set up but if you're looking for a scalable solution with lots of customization it's a very good option.


Woocommerce is a popular add-on that transforms WordPress into a powerful ecommerce platform. The plugin itself is pretty straightforward to use and very easy to install on any standard WordPress website. The platform let's you edit all kinds of shopping cart options within your dashboard and as long as you know a little bit about WordPress, managing store operations is a breeze.


OpenCart is a completely free ecommerce solution that lets you launch your online store, manage your products, and provides you with robust shopping cart. OpenCart is quite simple and it's open source nature means that everything about the platform is free, and that you’re also allowed to modify the platform to meet your specific needs. Like Magento OpenCart offers a scalable solution with so really great customization options.

Customized Carts

This type of cart is the choice of large scale enterprise businesses and well established ecommerce organizations.

A customized cart provides your business with top to bottom control of the user experience and allows you to integrate virtually any feature you require into the platform.

Customized carts provide organizations with:


While certain generic carts may provide you with some basic customizations they simply can’t compete with a cart built with your specific business in mind. With a customized shopping cart, you have full control to manage and display an infinite number of SKUs exactly the way you want. You also have the ability to make frequent changes to the product display, run special promotions from within the cart, and capitalize on the latest marketing tools such as retargeting and remarketing.


As we touched on earlier, data storage is a key priority for any shopping cart application and a customized cart gives your business full control in this space. While most generic carts only provide limited access for modifications, a custom shopping cart gives you the freedom to protect and manage your data. This means you, as the website owner, can have full access to all the records for your site and can manage the security of your checkout process.


One of the biggest advantages of a customized cart is its ability to grow and expand at the same pace as your business. Because the shopping cart is design specifically for your business, they will essentially come with unlimited support (you have a developer in-house who can work on it) and this allows you to scale (and even pivot) as often as frequently as you like. Customized carts are also less susceptible to slow-downs in customer service due to inadequate or improperly-used features.

Marketing Opportunities

To get the most out of your ecommerce business you need to be using your site’s shopping cart to learn about customer behavior and tying it into your marketing efforts. As we mentioned earlier custom carts provide far more access to this information over readymade carts and can help you become far more tactical with your remarketing efforts. Customized carts also give you additional control over search engine optimization and can play an important role in moving you site up the search results.


A customized cart offers a wide range of advantages over the generic readymade carts on the market but these advantages do come at a cost. A customized cart will always cost considerably more to setup, maintain, and update. To get the most out of a customized cart you should really have an in-house developer who understands the platform and can make changes with minimal support. The benefits of a customize cart can be lost if you are always outsourcing the maintenance to a third party.

Ticketing Applications

In addition to providing your customers with a great shopping cart experience during their checkout, some businesses such as airlines, travel agencies, and entertainment services require additional tools that can manage the ticketing side of a transaction. Though these services aren't the core focus of this guide we wanted to provide an overview of two options you can explore if your business requires electronic ticketing.


The Amadeus Electronic Ticketing system provides some major benefits to your customers with one of the biggest being a complete, end to end paperless experience. Since 2008 Amadeus has been at the cutting edge of electronic ticketing and are one of the most widely used solutions on the market. There platform is flexible and scalable giving you the freedom to focus on business growth rather than logistics.


As with Amadeus, Sabre offers a solution that completely replaces the traditional paper-based ticketing processes with an automated electronic document. There technology has been implemented across a range of industries increasing efficiency, improving customer responsiveness, and eliminating virtually all paper-related costs. Their platform has a robust exchange and refunds management solution and even has options to integrate affiliate marketing. If you're looking for a feature rich ticketing solution Sabre is a great place to start.


Both customized and ready-made carts have their own unique set of advantages and disadvantages and, as with all things ecommerce, the right choice will boil down to the needs of your business and the resources you have available.

With all that said we do recommend taking the time to really think about your cart option, what you choose will have big impact on your future so choose carefully.


"My advice for startups founder or a sole proprietor, in today’s world you don’t need to invest in an offline store or have a huge warehouse to start selling your products – for instance, Shopping cart software considerably reduces time needed for business launch. With a web store, you can start selling goods on demand in almost no time. From our side, we know well that the time is very critical for the startups, so we're enabling to launch in just 3 months and sell either in your region or globally using all sales channels – web, mobile and social"

Anastasia Rostova
Product Marketing Manager at CS - Cart

Disclaimer: The contents of this report are provided for informational purposes only.  We do not guarantee the accuracy of the information contained in this report and the contents are not intended to be a substitute for independent research or a guarantee on the status or use of ecommerce services in your area. Reliance on any material provided in this report is solely at your own risk and we make no warranties arising from its usage